, Port Arthur, Texas


December 6, 2010

Pro players bring positive message

NEDERLAND — Nederland High School and many other local schools welcomed NFL football players throughout the week of Nov. 29-Dec. 3.

New York Giant's Keith Davis and Cleveland Brown's William Green discussed choices with the students of NHS.

“I love speaking to teens,” Green said. “I love encouraging and connecting with them. I want them to know that there is always a way up and out of hard times.”

Davis and Green kept the attention of the students with fun visuals, and they planted the idea of “making the right choices and listening to the right voices.”

“I always tell teens that I meet the same thing,” Davis said. “It's a quote by Dr. Edwin Cole. 'Winners are different than losers. Winners look at where they are going to, and losers look at what they are going through.'”

Davis emphasized the idea of the “bars” that are on the inside, which included depression, family matters, relationships, high school drama and poverty. He also had the students repeat many sayings, one of them being, “It's not how you start, it's how you finish.”

“My personal bars had me down until I was 15,” Davis said. “I was in a deep depression, and then I realized that only I could make my dreams reality.”

To show the students how one must push through the hard times to get to the good, Green did push ups with different sized “dreams” on his back.

“I want every one of these students to see that no matter how big their dream, they can push through the hard times, break those bars and achieve it,” Green said.

These “dreams” were students chosen from the student body.

“It was fun to get to go on stage,” Ian Gibson, junior, said. “I really didn't think he could lift me.”

Along with the topic of choices, the football players discussed the use of drugs and participating in premarital sex.   Davis used the stories of teens he has previously met to emphasize real-life troubles.

“I shared the stories of a few teen girls on the subject of premarital sex,” Davis said. “It is easier for the girls to relate, and it makes it more real for them.”

Green shared a bit of his life story with the students.

“I thought it was really cool how he had gone through so much and yet was able to get through it,” Juliet Mandeville, senior, said. “It shows how strong he is that he can come to a high school and share his story with a bunch of people he doesn't know.”

He also told them about the struggles he had with the loss of his parents, depression and the difficulty he had staying on the right path.

“My mom taught me about faith,” Green said. “She taught me that with the help of God, I can do anything and get through any circumstance.”

The men also illustrated that the road to success and achieving dreams is not always smoothly paved.

“There were many times when I was growing up that I would think to myself, 'I'm never going to get out of here. I'm too far under',” Davis said. “But I got through, and when I learned to push, I came out on top.”

Both Davis and Green have traveled to many places to speak to people of all ages.

“My dream now is to reach a generation,” Davis said. “I've been to forty countries and all across the United States. My goal is to help change and mold the future of our world.”

To make this program possible, the Bill Glass Champions for Life group sought to sponsor the school ministries. Along with the school ministry, the group goes into prisons to bring hope to the men and women and show that they are capable of change.

“Our basis is to plant seeds of growth and promote excellence, education, accountability, help set goals and help the students obtain self-respect and the feeling of self-worth,” Ridge Sewell, Golden Triangle Champions for Life member, said.

At the end of the program, the students were asked to take note cards they were given and write their names, school, and any comments, prayer requests or stories they would like to share with the program.

“The cards are something that we all enjoy,” Sewell said. “We each read over them, pray over them, and enjoy the stories. If we find any that could mean serious harm to someone, we report the stories to whoever we need to.”

Overall, the programs have been a success. Many students and prisoners have really taken the words to heart.

“I have had many of the students come to me after our time with them and thank us or tell us that our words changed their lives,” Davis said. “Some have even said that we have saved them from suicide.”

Many school districts around the nation, and in other countries, have begun promoting this program. The group speaks at middle schools, high schools, colleges and prisons.

“NHS was a really great group,” Sewell said. “They were very attentive and responsive. We loved it here and hope to be able to come back in the future.”

On Friday, December 3, the group hosted an event at Central High School in Beaumont at 7 p.m. All of the players were there, and students and faculty were invited to attend.

Chloe Cunningham is a copy editor for the Bulldog Beat, the student newspaper of Nederland High School.

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